Hyper-focus to deload your brain

If you’re smart, talented or ambitious (or even if you aren’t) chasing goals and executing those big projects can take a toll over time. Particularly, if you’ve got a bunch of those outside of your day job.

From my experience, folks like us tend to get stuck at two places:

  1. Where do we start from?
  2. What’s next?

And a lot of thought and action goes into determining each of these aspects before we can even think about getting the project off the ground. Yes, I know, we would rather ‘do’ instead of wasting time ‘thinking.’ I get it. But knowing where to go makes the journey a whole lot easier than deciding on-the-go.

Having a blueprint, however, isn’t enough as we’re often inundated by that list of steps (ranging from tens to hundreds to even thousands!) that we need to action on should we want the project to succeed. Staring at that sucker of a list for hours each day isn’t going to solve the problem. Trust me, it doesn’t work. I’ve tried it for 30 consecutive days, and lost 30 days!

What I recommend is you save that entire list as reference. For now, study the list and identify the ONE thing you need to focus on that will set the ball rolling. This would take some more thinking but what the heck, you’ve already invested a lot of time and little more wouldn’t hurt. Doing this is imperative as it’ll save you the overwhelm that usually comes with a massive project.

For example, when I began working on my keynote earlier this year, my plan was to work on 3 different ones. My biggest mistake was to work on all three together instead of just one at a time. I kid you not — I invested close to 6 months’ to reflect, study, research and review about the content but didn’t get even a single draft done! Not one, let alone three!

I forced myself to reevaluate what was going on and decided to hyper focus on just one keynote speech to begin with. That means I’ll complete my research, gather information, organize, polish, refine and test out the speech at least a half a dozen times before moving on to develop the other two speeches. One at a time.

My brain must’ve felt instantly relived as all my mental faculties obsessed over just one damn thing. It felt really good and I made progress after such a long time. It was a clear case of me getting in my own way.

The example above was just one of things I’ve been trying lately. I’ve also been experimenting with my morning routine. Instead of getting up early to write and then read 2-3 books, I’m only focusing on writing and reading one book before I head out to the gym. Some of you already know this, my training program is usually minimalistic so there’s a lot less brain power involved in thinking what to do next than just get in and do the work.

I’m pretty sure you can relate with these examples. But I know hyper-focus doesn’t come easy in our culture. We’re obsessed with getting things done, often, several things at a time. Focusing on just one thing (when you’ve got like a million other things to do) sounds counterintuitive, but it totally works, leaving your brain to do what it does the best — creative ideation.

Think about it. Not all at once though.

By Sunil Nair

Nurturing leaders of tomorrow.

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